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Walking Together

June 18, 2014

Faith. That was the common thread that was intended to connect my wide-ranging sabbatical activities. I knew that I needed a time of faith renewal that was both deep and wide, and part of my intent was to explore how God’s Spirit is moving to deepen faith in others.

Our time in Budapest has been built around learning firsthand how we, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, are living out our faith with others through Young Adults in Global Mission. It’s a ministry that I’ve been aware of for years. I’ve known several participants, but have never witnessed their work first hand.

Yesterday YAGM, the ministry, became embodied in Meredith, a wonderful YAGM who happens to have roots in the Carolinas. Meredith is nearing the end of her year serving alongside the people of Piliscsaba, Hungary in a variety of Lutheran social service ministries. Piliscsaba is a beautiful, small town located in the Pilis Mountains, to the northwest of Budapest. She has been especially focused in ministry at a Lutheran kindergarten and at the Siló.

The kindergarten is more what we would consider a preschool, and provides a necessary service to Hungarian families. The state provides maternity leave for up to three years and education beginning at the age of four. For many families, this creates a gap that couldn’t be overcome on their own. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary, living out of a deep history of diakonia, has sought to meet this need. We enjoyed our time at the kindergarten and were reminded of why travel is so important. Greta and Anders had no problem jumping into the sandbox and onto the swing set as we talked with the leaders. They don’t speak Hungarian (surprise!) but play is an international language. I am thankful for the chance to teach our children from an early age that our common humanity, our connectedness, runs deeper than some would have us believe.

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Meredith with Torsten.

The Siló is a housing facility that provides residents with physical disabilities with therapy, care, and employment opportunities while also creating as much independence of living as possible for each resident. The Lutheran Church is instrumental in this ministry and it is beautiful to see God’s people working together to show that a physical disability is not something less than.

It is obvious in speaking with Meredith, and with those she has worked alongside, that she has been a gift to the community of Piliscsaba. It has been delightful to see how she has embodied the ELCA’s model of accompaniment, walking together in a solidarity that practices interdependence and mutuality. In this model, the point is not so much to go somewhere and do something for someone else but to go and be the Body of Christ together.

As a pastor in the ELCA, I am thankful not simply for what Meredith has shared with the people of Piliscsaba this year. I am equally grateful for how this year has shaped her faith. She, like her fellow YAGMs, are gifts from God to the church, leaders for tomorrow and today, helping us to see how God’s Spirit can move in new ways when we drop our pretenses and simply work, and walk, together.

I am also thankful that she has taken the time to walk with us in our journey these two days, both in Piliscsaba and Budapest. She literally walked miles with us in both cities, becoming a big favorite of our children along the way. She also introduced me to several teachers and leaders within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary, through whom I learned much. But that’s a blog post for tomorrow or the next day. Too much to write here.

Today it is enough that I’m thankful to be part of a church that believes that the Body of Christ extends far beyond its own borders, geographical or denominational. I’m thankful for YAGM, and for the particular YAGM with whom we were blessed to spend these days. I thank God that we are a church that believes that the younger among us can teach us something about faith. And I’m thankful that’s happened to me this week.

You can read more about Meredith’s ministry in her own words here.

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

Note: The lion in the picture doesn’t have much to do with this post. It’s one of several on the Széchenyi Lánchíd which connects Buda to Pest. Then again, we did walk together across it several times, so that’s something!

From → Sabbatical 2014

One Comment
  1. Pastor Fred & Mary Hubert permalink

    Pastor Dave,

    We are enjoying your posts!

    Fred & Mary

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